The medical definition of anxiety provided in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is an “overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.” Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress and depending on its severity can manifest in a variety of ways, including:
- The release of stress hormones: Anxiety affects certain hormones in the brain, including cortisol, known as the primary stress hormone, and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which is the neuroendocrine system mediating the stress response.
- Causes the amygdala to enlarge: An enlarged amygdala (area of the brain that perceives feelings of stress, anxiety, irritability, and processes fear) intensifies the body’s response to threatening and/ or scary situations.
- Shrinks the hippocampus: The hippocampus (area of the brain associated with learning and memory) connects to the amygdala, and together they control emotional memory recalling and regulation.
- Weaken structural brain connections: Anxiety can weaken the connection between the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain that reigns rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, and more), making it difficult for the prefrontal cortex to send a logical response to danger to the amygdala. This can increase one’s sensitivity to danger and hinder one’s ability to develop rational responses.
Anxiety can also adversely affect one’s excretory and digestive systems, leading to a loss of appetite, stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Although, as the Mayo Clinic asserts, having occasional feelings of anxiety is an unavoidable part of life, learning applicable tools and effective techniques to help cope with anxiety can be invaluable to one’s quality of life.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations” without interpretation or judgment. There have been studies linking the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness to a reduction in one’s stress levels. Examples of specific scientific evidence that underscores the power of mindfulness in managing anxiety include:
- Research indicates that mindfulness practices lead to an increase in the production of theta and alpha waves, which are the brain wave frequencies, respectively associated with:
- One study concluded that “mindfulness enables cognitive and emotional awareness, diminishes emotional distraction and cognitive rigidity, and allows for intentional regulation of behavior, attention, and emotion.”
- Another study concluded that mindfulness practices are linked to augmented “changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective taking.”
- An article published by the Society for Research in Child Development explains that “mindful practices can stop dysregulation by interrupting perseveration on negative thoughts or behaviors, increasing tolerance of difficult emotional sensations, and promoting self-compassion and empathy.”
- Neuroscientists assert that mindfulness allows for a cognitive and emotional rebalance, creating an opportunity for self-regulation, and improved resilience towards anxiety.
The purpose of practicing mindfulness techniques is to help increase one’s ability to regulate emotions, while simultaneously waning unwanted feelings, including anxiety.
Treatment In Calabasas
Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.
The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.